When thinking about craft beer destinations around the world, countries like the US, Germany, and Belgium are probably the first to come to mind. While Costa Rica may conjure images of beautiful beaches and lush rainforests, it doesn’t likely appear at the top of anyone’s list of places for sampling creative new brews. However, Costa Rica has a small but growing brewery scene that is trying to change that perception – including Numu Brewing Company.
Since its founding in 2019, Numu has strived to bring delicious craft beer to both visitors and locals in the beautiful region of Guanacaste. In 2022, they also are using their beers to support a great cause – raising funds for ALS research with a new beer supporting the Ales for ALS™ program.
Numu is a labor love for its founder and CEO, Robert Buethe, who moved from Virginia to Guanacaste with his family to start the brewery in 2018. Robert grew up in Chicago, but his love of high-quality beer was kindled while his family was living in Germany. In the mid-90s, after getting his degree in business and beginning a career with a multinational corporation, he got his first exposure to the beer industry as a partner in a Chicago brewery called Hopcats.
While he learned a lot about the brewing business from his experience there, Hopcats only lasted for a few years. Over the next two decades, Robert continued his career in business while maintaining a passion for homebrewing. All the while, he observed the explosion of the craft brewing industry from afar. Finally, ready for a career change, he decided it was time to make his passion his career once more. Robert also believed he had a great idea for a new craft beer market where he could make an impact.
“My wife is Costa Rican, and we met here 25 years ago,” he says. “And we just thought, wouldn't it be fun to not just open a brewery, which a lot of people do, but to open one in Costa Rica. After a market study, we realized there is an emerging market here for craft beer. Also, it’s a beautiful place to live. So, we decided to move with our kids and make a go of it.”
After settling on the northwestern province of Guanacaste for a location, Numu Brewing Company opened with a 10 BBL brewery and taproom in 2019. The brewery’s name comes from the word for “sun” in the language of the Chorotega, the people indigenous to Guanacaste. Robert says that he believed it was important that Numu’s beer and branding pay tribute to the culture of the area.
“When we came to Costa Rica, we want to make sure this brewery was clearly identified with this region,” he says. “So, our style, the look and the feel of our brand, it's very clearly from this region, from the Chorotega. It’s reflective of the artwork and the style of the people.”
This year, Numu will become one of a handful of international partners in the Ales for ALS™ program. Ales for ALS™ is a national fundraising campaign created in 2013 by a Yakima Valley hop farming family to raise funds for awareness for ALS. Each year, their hop farm and Yakima Chief Hops donate a unique hop blend to select breweries across the country – and around the world – and ask that a minimum of $1 per pint brewed with this blend be donated to advance ALS research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).
Numu’s participation in came by a stroke of good fortune, when Ales for ALS™ director Mike Shannon, on vacation in Guanacaste, struck up a conversation about the program and the need to support ALS research with Robert in Numu’s taproom.
“[Mike] is very good salesman, and he laid out the story and it sounded very intriguing,” Robert says. “And frankly, it's a great cause and we're happy to be part of it. [ALS] is a terrible, terrible disease. There’s a lot of different things out there we could be supporting, but with the connection to beer, the fact that it’s Ales for ALS™, it’s a good fit. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out a way to give back, so it was a good opportunity.”
Numu’s first beer to support the program will be a hoppy Belgian-style golden ale. It will go by the name, simply enough, “Ales for ALS™.” The brew is also exciting as it will represent the first beer from Numu’s new head brewer, José Pablo Barahona Silva. José grew up in Costa Rica and recently completed a Master’s in Brewing Science in Belgium before returning home to take over the brewing operation at Numu. At 7% ABV, it will be a bit heavier than Numu’s normally easy-drinking beers, but it will provide a unique showcase for both José’s training in Belgian brewing techniques and this year’s unique blend of Ales for ALS™ hops from Yakima Chief.
Numu brewing Company’s Ales for ALS™ beer will be released in mid-September. Numu’s beer is only available in Costa Rica, but for beer lovers and those who want to support ALS TDI’s essential research to end ALS around the world, it could be the perfect excuse for a trip to Guanacaste.
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